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Camera gives Canadian researchers a glimpse of undersea Arctic life

  • Author: CBC News
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published December 26, 2012

Data is now streaming live from the Arctic sea floor near Cambridge Bay in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

A team from Ocean Networks Canada, based at the University of Victoria, installed the undersea monitoring station in September.

Dr. Kim Juniper spoke at the Arctic Net Conference in Vancouver on Dec. 14. He said the observatory is already generating interest among scientists who want to use the site for their own work.

"Essentially using what we've put in there as a basis to provide some background for some other research," he said.

Juniper said it's a preview to the kind of work expected at the High Arctic Research Station, which is expected to open in 2017.

So far, the mini-observatory has caught shrimp and fish on camera, and has recorded ice thickening at the rate of one centimetre a day.

Beth Sampson, a science teacher at Kiilnik High School in Cambridge Bay, said it's the kind of real-life science that appeals to her as a teacher.

"It also has a video camera on it, so it's live-streaming data, and you'll be able to see things that live in the water that might be swimming past or crawling past on the ocean floor. So it's exciting to be able to see a side of the ocean that we don't see from the surface."

Sampson's Grade 11 biology students got the see the apparatus before it went under water. She is now working on a plan to use the data in science projects next school term.

The underwater observatory is a scaled-down version of similar observatories in seafloor networks off the coast of Vancouver Island.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

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